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Original buyer of $1M lottery ticket identified

Topic closed. 43 replies. Last post 11 years ago by CASH Only.

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Posted: December 25, 2005, 1:46 pm - IP Logged

konane wrote:

<< The person in whose hands it rests at the time of turning it in for cash is the legal owner. Period. >>

 

Just like "finders keepers, losers weepers," people here can repeat that as many times as they want, but it's simply not true. While it may be presumed that the person in possession of a bearer instrument is the owner, there is absolutely nothing in the law that says that simple possession of a bearer instrument, or any other property, is proof of ownership. The money in your wallet is also a bearer instrument, but if you dropped a $20 bill and I picked it up before you and tried to keep it nobody here would think I actually owned it simply because it was in my possession or because I found it. The same holds true for other bearer instruments. If somebody else can prove that they are the rightful owner possession by another person is meaningless.

There is one fact in this story that everybody agrees to, and that is that St John found the ticket. That leads to another indisputable fact: somebody else was the owner before St John found it, but the ticket somehow left their possession. The legal issues are the identity of theoriginal owner and how the ticket left their possession.  The law varies from place to place, but there is statutory law about ownership of lost property, and somebody who finds lost property is not entitled to ownership unless it goes unclaimed for a period of time defined by law. The law may or may not require an active effort to locate the rightful owner. It's  almost certain that St John didn't follow the applicable laws about found property.

The  first issue to resolve will be whether or not Donovan has a convincing case that he is really the original owner. Since nobody else has come forward to claim ownership of the ticket, he may be accepted as the original owner even with minimal proof. If Donovan prevails the second issue will be how the  ticket left his possession. If he willfully discarded it in the trash then St John definitely has a legitimate claim to ownership, but "willfuly discarded" is a gray area. Deliberately throwing a stack of tickets in the trash without realizing that a winning ticket was accidentally put in that pile probably doesn't mean it was willfully discarded, but that leads to the question of whether or not he really knew the ticket was a winner. Since it's impossible to know for sure what his intent was, the outcome may well be based on a presumption that people don't throw away valuable items and that he didn't intend to discard it.

The job of the lottery department is to uphold their rules, not rule on matters of law, so they'll almost certainly rule in favor of St John unless they decide that the evidence for Donovan's case is compelling.  Even so, they'll probably withold payment for a while because they don't want to risk a lawsuit if Donovan wins a court case but can't recover 100% of the money from St John. If Donovan's attorney is working for a contingency fee Donovan's cost for pursuing the case in court should be small enough that he will do so. St John will have to pay legal fees regardless of the outcome. There may not be much evidence on Donovan's side, but St John's case is seriously handicapped since there's no question that the ticket was found and not purchased. If the two of them have any sense at all they'll look at the maximum that either of them could net and work out a compromise from there.

i always thought the difference between the dropped 20 dollar bill and a tossed away 20 dollar bill was a big one.  in one case you didn't mean to lose it, it just dropped.  it's still yours. or at least, it should be.  just like losing the keys to your car doesn't give the finder of those keys possession of the car as well as your keys.

now, if you purposefully dropped that 20 dollar bill in the trash bin, or stuck it in a stripper's g string, it's gone. you gave it away, you threw it away.  you can't have it back. 

but i'm not a lawyer, so maybe that's not how it works after all.  all in all, this thread has been some interesting food for thought.

I'd rather stick a $20 in a stripper's g-string than spend it on annuity-only tickets.

    Raven62's avatar - binary
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    Posted: December 25, 2005, 2:02 pm - IP Logged

    Gamblers spend their money on games of chance, if you don't like the game stop playing.

     

      justxploring's avatar - villiarna
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      Posted: December 25, 2005, 2:33 pm - IP Logged

      While it may be presumed that the person in possession of a bearer instrument is the owner, there is absolutely nothing in the law that says that simple possession of a bearer instrument, or any other property, is proof of ownership.

      I agree with this statement. Every law or rule, no matter how clearly stated, can be challenged because there is often a gray area. The woman who stole a purse and claimed the winning ticket or the clerk in AZ who cashed in a ticket she stole were also bearers, but they weren't the legal owners.

        Raven62's avatar - binary
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        Posted: December 25, 2005, 2:41 pm - IP Logged

        While it may be presumed that the person in possession of a bearer instrument is the owner, there is absolutely nothing in the law that says that simple possession of a bearer instrument, or any other property, is proof of ownership.

        I agree with this statement. Every law or rule, no matter how clearly stated, can be challenged because there is often a gray area. The woman who stole a purse and claimed the winning ticket or the clerk in AZ who cashed in a ticket she stole were also bearers, but they weren't the legal owners.

        Possession is nine tenths of the law, so it becomes the true owners responsibility to prove that they are the owner.

         

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          Posted: December 25, 2005, 2:50 pm - IP Logged

          The legal issue boils down to only a few points:

          • Whether this guy can prove he was the purchaser,
          • Whether he still owned the tickets after he deliberately discarded them,
          • Whether the ownership passed to the store, or not, or to anyone who retrieved them,
          • Whether ownership passed to the dumpster diver when he retrieved them,
          • Whether there was 'consent' on the part of the store for the garbage that presumably still belonged to them to be claimed by the dumpster diver, and if not, would they have allowed their property (the winning ticket/garbage) to belong, either to the dumpster diver, or to the guy who deliberately gave them back to the store.

          Seems to me if anyone has a claim, other than the dumpster diver, it's the store ownership.  Assuming the 'bearer instrument' status of the ticket doesn't hold water.  Not the guy who gave them to the store.  The store owned those tickets from the time he discarded them.  There's evidently no question of where the tickets were found.

          And, in fact, they had signs out about loitering, which might well include dumpster diving.  If a case was introduced I think they'd have a middling shot at winning it on the premise that the dumpster diver stole property of value from the store.

          But the guy who bought the tickets is two layers away from ownership of them.  No case could be made suggesting the store didn't own the tickets when they were found.  They were legally responsible for them, along with all their other trash.  Holding it in a sanitary manner, disposing of it properly.  They possessed it in a completely legal way, as demonstrated by the fact that if they disposed of it improperly they could be legally cited for doing so.

          One of the risks for all dumpster divers when they take items from garbage receptacles, is the criminal reality of being accused of theft.  It usually doesn't happen, but it can.

          Jack

          Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

          It's about number behavior.

          Egos don't count.

           

          Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

           

            Raven62's avatar - binary
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            Posted: December 25, 2005, 3:25 pm - IP Logged

            The store was aware of the dumpster diver's find and relinquished all claims to the Lottery Ticket by allowing the Dumpster Diver to remove the Ticket from the premises.

             

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              Posted: December 25, 2005, 3:29 pm - IP Logged

              Do you know that for a fact, Raven62, or are you just guessing?

              It's clear they didn't have him arrested for theft.  But the legal question of whether they tacitly consented to allowing him ownership of the ticket seems to me to be entirely up for grabs.

              They certainly have him on the security camera taking the ticket.

              I'd bet if the dumpster diver wins his court case against the original purchaser his legal battles over the money haven't even begun.  And the party of the second part definitely has a better claim than the purchaser.

               

               

              Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

              It's about number behavior.

              Egos don't count.

               

              Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

               

                Raven62's avatar - binary
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                Posted: December 25, 2005, 3:31 pm - IP Logged

                Do you have proof otherwise?

                 

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                  Posted: December 25, 2005, 3:34 pm - IP Logged

                  I don't need proof otherwise, Raven.

                  I'm not the guy with the ticket.

                  We have no idea what transpired between him and the store staff when all that went on.  But the store has it all on camera, which will qualify as proof.

                  The lawyers are going to have their day on this one.  And I'd say there's a middling chance the dumpster diver will walk away being glad he ain't in jail before it's over.

                  If he didn't specifically ask permission to take that ticket, and if the store manager didn't specifically give it to him I think he could have a serious problem.

                  Jack

                  Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

                  It's about number behavior.

                  Egos don't count.

                   

                  Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

                   

                    Raven62's avatar - binary
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                    Posted: December 25, 2005, 3:41 pm - IP Logged

                    Were the Police called? Was the Dumpster Diver Arrested? Does The Dumpster Diver still have possession of the Ticket?

                     

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                      Posted: December 25, 2005, 3:45 pm - IP Logged

                      Probably all insignificant where a lot of money's concerned, Raven. 

                      Someone pointed out that before people make pronouncements about legalities they ought to be aware of what the laws say.  This one's complicated enough so's, unless you and I are lawyers, we don't have a clue of what the outcomes will be.

                      Rhetorical questions won't be deciding factors

                      I'm not a lawyer.  I'm just an old country boy in New Mexico

                      Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

                      It's about number behavior.

                      Egos don't count.

                       

                      Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

                       

                        Raven62's avatar - binary
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                        Posted: December 25, 2005, 4:02 pm - IP Logged

                        Court Cases have nothing to do with Truth or Justice. If the Dumpster Diver didn't retrieve the Ticket from the Trash Bin the Ticket would now be in some land fill somewhere, Lost forever.

                         

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                          Posted: December 25, 2005, 4:13 pm - IP Logged

                          You're restating the obvious, Raven, and the irrelevant.  Court cases are going to be where it's decided where truth and justice are to be found in this instance.

                          Maybe you won't like it, maybe I won't like it, but it's reality and it's stamped firmly there in civil and criminal codes.

                          Thank goodness.

                          Life would be fairer sometimes, sometimes more filled with warm huggies, if we just went by gut-feel concepts of truth and justice as you and I percieve them.  But there'd also be a lot more of what anyone who doesn't subscribe to your particular views on important matters would consider downright abusive.

                          It's all we've got, those criminal and civil codes, and the US Constitution.  We need a lot more solid adherence to all of them, not less, just for a lot of feelgood.

                           

                          Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

                          It's about number behavior.

                          Egos don't count.

                           

                          Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

                           


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                            Posted: December 25, 2005, 4:24 pm - IP Logged

                            Why is this thread always bumped up? The prize was annuity-only. We should be talking about prizes paid in lump sum.